OCEANSIDE — Pipes, barges and dredging equipment have left Oceanside beaches after the completion of harbor dredging that went on for an unusually long five months.
Annual dredging removes built-up sand from the harbor channel and puts it on city beaches.
This year operations got off to a late start, with an initial pledge to be done by early August. The job is typically completed by Memorial Day. That pledge stretched out to new completion dates, until the end date was finally deemed “when finished.”
CJW Construction Company was hired for about $5 million to do the work by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Problems plagued operations throughout the project.
The company took on channel dredging with small-scale equipment that could not withstand ocean conditions. Equipment was replaced and repaired several times, as work dragged on through the summer tourist season.
By July the city called dredging operations “a disaster.”
“It’s unfortunate they were just in over their head, the equipment just wasn’t big enough to handle it,” Councilman Jerry Kern said.
The project finally wrapped up on Oct. 31. The contractor reported dredging close to the 260,000 cubic yards of sand promised.
The first week of November was spent removing equipment and returning operation areas to pre-work conditions.
All agree there was extra challenges this year to reach the end result of safe boat navigations in the harbor.
“The contractor was new to this type of dredging and worked through a summer with difficult sea conditions,” Scott John, Army Corps of Engineers project manager, said. “Even though it ran long, the contractor made a cut to the open ocean and placed a significant amount of sand on the beach.”
Sand was added to about 3,300 feet of shoreline, from south of the San Luis Rey River outlet to the Oceanside Pier.
During operations weekly update meetings were held with the contractor, Army Corps and city officials. In early meetings, Congressman Darrell Issa was also in attendance.
News was shared on how much sand was dredged, the number of days of active operations and work setbacks. Also shared were several reports of ocean dredging pipes breaking loose and being recovered.
At the weekly meetings the city discussed impacts operations had on tourism, planned events, boaters and residents. Frustrations ran high.
“We accept the fact that they are listening, but we’re still stuck with the persons who are doing the dredging,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “They are not fulfilling their obligations.”
The latest estimate is at least 90 percent of the target amount of sand was removed.
Greg Fuderer, Army Corps senior public affairs specialist, said Army Corps began a post-dredging survey on Monday to confirm the actual amount of sand dredged.
A post-work performance review will also be done to assess operations job safety, environmental impacts and timeliness of work. The survey and review are expected to be completed in a couple of weeks.
Army Corps will put out a request for proposals for next year’s dredging in early 2017. The decision has been made not to award CJW Construction the option years on last year’s contract.